Branding really isn’t as complex as it sounds, don’t be intimidated by it. However, It is important to know that at the core of your marketing strategy should be a rock solid brand and everyone in your organization should sing the same tune. Most people think of brands as logos and colors, while this is an important part to any brand, it isn’t the whole picture. So, what’s the first step in creating an effective brand strategy for your business?
I believe at the root of any brand is a short, well thought out message. Call this a tag line, mission statement, goal, thesis statement, whatever. The point is, you need a very brief elevator pitch that can be communicated through all mediums quickly and easily. It doesn’t necessarily need to be pinned with your logo or added to everyone’s email signature, it’s simply a unified understanding of your offering to the customer. In a sense, it’s an idea. So, first discover the foundation of your product – what it does, how it works, what makes it different – and formulate with your team a plan of action to put the strategy in place.
If you don’t have a logo, now would be the time to have one designed – try 99designs. If you do already have a logo, be sure that it matches the “idea” that you’ve just formulated – if not be sure to adjust accordingly and don’t be afraid to involve the rest of your team in the process. Logos are an essential part of your brand integrity, it’s what communicates your brand visually and typically the easiest way to identify with your offerings – think Nike. Though this isn’t a post on designing logos, I recommend you pay careful consideration to the design to ensure that it can communicate your brand effectively in any format – like a social media icon. Don’t make it complicated and again, make sure it, like everything else, sings the same tune.
Next, ensure that you, or your marketing team, oversee the careful distribution of your brand. If you’ve been cruising without one, this may be a difficult but essential transition for the team. Sit with everyone, in a group or individually, and share the new strategy and how important it is to future success. Make sure everyone understands the value of protecting the brand and its integrity – that your business, team, and products are defined by it. Ensure everything reflects the brand, be diligent doing so. This may take time, depending on the size of your business, to circulate through items like invoices, letterhead, social media, blog, and PR to something as simple as a shirt. It sounds silly but the strength of a brand can make or break you – think BP, or the Gap disaster.
Control the output. This means that your advertising, website, sales collateral, blog, and even guest posts on third-party blogs share the same, unified, brand – logo and messaging. If you have media regularly accessing things like your logo, make it easily available to them but be sure it’s updated and in the formats they commonly require. Check to be sure your communication is current – email marketing, outbound emails, social media.
Lastly, coordinate your brand launch/relaunch with something big. This is usually done in collaboration with a website redesign and/or product relaunch. Line up the PR, prep the social media channels, and be ready to link content. Your team should be ready to engage with customers by being knowledgable of the new strategy and enthusiastic about the opportunity. Stand behind it but don’t let it grow stale. Once your brand is in place, announced, and embraced – carefully build it into all future initiatives.
Have fun and good luck. Have a question? Disagree? Want to exchange pleasentries? Leave a comment below. As always, you can reach me on Twitter @joshuahays or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org